Who needs to monitor their vitamin levels?

Vitamins and minerals are nutrients the body needs in small amounts to function properly and stay healthy. Most people get them through their diet, although some may need supplements. We tell you when to take vitamins and when it’s a waste of money.

Why do we need

Vitamins and microelements are indispensable substances. They are not synthesized in the body; they can only be obtained from the environment. These substances are involved in hormonal regulation, the work of the immune system, and other vital systems. 

For example, vitamins and minerals help:

  • Strengthen bones. The combination of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, and phosphorus protects bones from fractures.
  • Prevent congenital disabilities. Folic acid intake in early pregnancy reduces the risk of developing nervous system defects in a child.
  • Save teeth. Fluoride prevents the occurrence or aggravation of caries.

Vitamins can be destroyed by heat treatment during cooking. Minerals are more stable, so their deficiency is less common with good nutrition.

A prolonged lack of vitamins and minerals can lead to serious consequences:

  • Vitamin C → scurvy. Sailors experienced bleeding gums, weakness, and skin rashes on months-long voyages without fresh fruits and vegetables. This is how vitamin C deficiency manifested itself.
  • Vitamin A → a visual disorder that can lead to blindness. In some developing countries, people still go blind due to vitamin A deficiency.
  • Vitamin D → rickets. A lack of this vitamin can lead to bone deformities and impaired mental development in a child and adults – to muscle pain, excess weight, chronic fatigue, and weakness of bone tissue.
Who needs to monitor their vitamin levels?

Vitamin D is useful for almost everyone; it should be taken in most cases, with the rare exception of living in regions with a high level of solar activity.

Vitamin D is recommended for children from the first month of life.

It is believed that vitamin D should be given to all children under 18, regardless of the time of year. The dosage depends on the place where the child lives.

High doses of vitamins and minerals can be harmful when taken in supplements. An overdose of vitamin C can cause diarrhea and kidney stones, and an excess of vitamin D can cause high blood pressure, arrhythmias, and calcium deposits in the vessels. There is no evidence that vitamin and mineral supplements make a difference in health. Multivitamins cannot strengthen immunity, reduce the frequency of SARS, or help prepare for exams. 

Why deficits occur

Most people can get all the necessary vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet.

For a normal healthy person living in central Russia, it usually does not make sense to use supplements other than vitamin D. Still; here, it is assumed that this person eats normally.

Despite the high need for vitamins with intensive growth, children do not need supplements.

We rarely see hypovitaminosis in healthy children who are fully fed. Even if the child is very selective in nutrition, as a rule, he receives all the necessary trace elements and vitamins with food.

Who needs to monitor their vitamin levels?

But some conditions and diseases may require additional intake of vitamins and minerals. These include:

  • In pregnancy, in this case, you need to take folic acid; we already wrote about this. In addition, your doctor may recommend supplemental vitamin D or iron if needed.
  • Veganism and raw food diet, while there may be a lack of vitamin B12, D, and iron due to dietary restrictions.
  • Certain diets, such as gluten-free. It can lead to a deficiency in many vitamins, including folic acid and thiamine.
  • Chronic anemia – may develop due to a deficiency of vitamin B12 or folic acid.
  • Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Taking drugs that increase the leaching of certain substances from the body. 

When using certain drugs for the treatment of various chronic diseases, for example, with impaired renal function or the treatment of hypertension, the concentration of any microelements may decrease. In most cases, doctors are aware of such side effects of the drug and prescribe supportive therapy.

With a prolonged lack of vitamins, some signs of deficiency may develop. Most often, they are not specific; it is only possible to conclude which vitamin is lacking with the additional examination. These include:

  • constant fatigue, drowsiness, and lack of energy
  • dry skin and hair
  • depression and irritability
  • frequent bruising
  • wounds take a long time to heal
  • frequent SARS. 

If there is a suspicion of a lack of vitamins or minerals, you should start keeping a food diary and seek the advice of a doctor.

Any vitamin in a child’s body is irreplaceable, and hypovitaminosis is a fairly serious condition that can even threaten a child’s life.

Who needs to monitor their vitamin levels?

Additional attention is required for the following:

  • vegetarians and vegans
  • children with confirmed allergies to any food 
  • children from socially disadvantaged families and developing countries.

Any chronic disease of a child can affect the metabolism of vitamins and microelements, first of all, of course, diseases of the digestive tract. But also such as kidney, liver, and various metabolic diseases. Remember that the drugs a child receives for chronic diseases can also affect the absorption of vitamins and trace elements.

How to fill the gap

Vitamins are complex molecules in fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, poultry, and seafood. WHO recommends eating 400 grams of vegetables and fruits daily and diversifying your diet with different foods to avoid vitamin deficiencies. 

There are enough vitamins in food to get the required amount. But under certain conditions, it is worth considering an additional reception:

  • Vitamin D. It is found in seafood, eggs, and dairy products, but in small amounts.
  • Iron preparations. With diagnosed iron deficiency anemia, it will not be possible to make up for the lack of products.
  • Vitamins A and C for children, in agreement with the pediatrician, if they eat poorly and monotonously. You can give supplements in the form of milkshakes.
  • B vitamins. They are found in vegetables, herbs, nuts, meat, and legumes, so deficiency is rare with a varied diet. But if there are strict dietary restrictions, it is worth discussing with your doctor the supplementation of vitamins for this group. 

Multivitamins and individual dietary supplements can be used if they make you feel better; no one has canceled the placebo effect. But in most cases, their effectiveness is low.

With confirmed hypovitaminosis or a deficiency of some trace element, an additional intake of supplements will be required.

In this case, we are not limited only to nutritional correction. Still, we must clearly understand that real hypovitaminosis is rare, diagnosed by a doctor, and has definite manifestations.

Important to remember

  • Vitamins are vital compounds without which the body cannot function.
  • Deficiencies are rare with a varied diet.
  • Supplementation without a proven deficiency does not affect immunity, intelligence, or SARS.
  • You can often make up for the lack of vitamins by changing your diet and adding fresh vegetables and fruits. 
  • You should consult a doctor for additional studies if there are signs of deficiency. 

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